By the end of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century, the trading companies of the British and French were well established in India. Both the companies were engaged in the development of their respective jurisdictions due to the Indian political condition of the time and their ambitions. The Portuguese and the Dutch were far behind the competition. The only two major rivals in the field were the English and the French. Therefore, there was bound to be a struggle for supremacy among them. The result of this struggle was the War of Carnatic in which the French were badly defeated and British supremacy was established over Indian trade and politics. The struggle for supremacy between the English and the French began in the south (Karnataka). Between 1746-63, there were three important wars between the two powers, which finally almost ended the power of the French in India and established the power of the English. The Anglo-French rivalry during this period was influenced by European politics.
First Carnatic War (1746-48)
The Anglo-French rivalry emerged in a fierce form in South India. Karnataka became the center of this drama. The then South Indian politics, especially in the internal situation of Karnataka, provided an opportunity for both the powers to try their strength, taking advantage of the weakness of the Mughal Empire, many small states had emerged in the south. There used to be a conflict between these states. Taking advantage of this situation, both the British and the French were dreaming of establishing their own power. At the same time in 1740 AD, the war of Austrian succession started. This war echoed wherever the British and the French were. India was also no exception to this. Here also the conflict between the British and the French started. According to one historian, “The First War of Carnatic was merely an extension of the Austrian War of Succession.”
What did the Carnatic War started?
The beginning of the Carnatic War was because the British navy had taken possession of some French ships. Dupleix (the French governor of Pondicherry) sought assistance from the French governor of Mauritius, La-Boué, to counter the British. He soon sought the assistance of Dupleix with the troops. He soon accompanied the troops to the aid of Dupleix. Both moved to Madras which was the center of British power in the south.
On the way, the French defeated the British in the Naval war. Upon reaching Madras, the French leader besieged the city and took many British prisoners including Clive. La-Boudon wanted to recover damages from the British and return them to Madras, but Dupleix against this he again took control of Madras, which La-Boudon had returned to the British in exchange for 4 lakh pounds. This incident is on September 17, 1746. Dupleix Fort St. Devitt and the British made unsuccessful attempts to capture Pondicherry.
The British were demoralized by Dupleix’s annexation of Madras. They sought help from Anwaruddin, the Nawab of Carnatic, the Nawab was also troubled by the war of both and he ordered both the companies to end the war, but Dupleix falsely assured the Nawab that he was winning for the Nawab of Madras and won it. The Nawab became silent. Dupleix did not keep his promise and kept all the loot himself and retained his authority over Madras as well. Enraged, the Nawab of Carnatic sent his army to attack Madras. Dupleix did not despair. A battle took place between the two armies at a place called St. Tomé (Thomi). Dupleix had only 230 French and 700 Indian soldiers, with 10,000 soldiers in the Nawab’s service, but Captain Paradise defeated the Nawab’s army, making clear the ‘superiority of the foreign European disciplined army over the loose and unorganized Indian army’. Similarly, in 1748 AD, the war of succession of Austria was stopped by the Treaty of Aix-la–Chapelle. As a result, there was an agreement between the British and the French in India and the war stopped. Madras was returned to the British, and the area of Luiburg (Luber) in North America was given to the French.
Who won the First Carnatic War?
The First Carnatic War was won by the French. It was concluded with the Treaty of Aix-la–Chapelle.
Significance of the First War of Carnatic
Although the First War of Carnatic was not directly related to Indian politics, yet its impact on India could not be left without. This war made the hollowness of Indian politics and military weakness clear to the European powers. The Nawab of Carnatic failed to stop a trading company from going to war. Not only this but the Nawab’s army was also defeated by a handful of French forces. The defeat of the Nawab encouraged the European powers to intervene more in Indian politics. Highlighting the importance of this war, Prof. Dr. Jewell says that ‘it set the stage for Dupleix’s experimentation and Clive’s works.’ Now European powers became contenders for political power, not just traders. In the words of Mallison, ‘they almost jumped from the position of the subordinate to the position of the lord.’
Second Carnatic War (1749-54)
The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle permanently quelled the Anglo-French rivalry and provided an opportunity to trade, but this peace did not last long. Soon both the powers were looking for a suitable opportunity. In fact, the First War of Carnatic ignited Dupleix’s political ambitions. He became anxious to establish French hegemony in India. Similar was the condition of the British. This opportunity arose both because of the controversial succession to the thrones of Hyderabad and Carnatic.
War of succession
In 1748, the war of succession started in Hyderabad and Karnataka. After the death of Nizam Asafjah of Hyderabad on May 21, 1748, his son Nasirjung ascended the throne, but Muzaffarjung, the grandson of the deceased Nizam, refused to accept Nasirjung as Nizam. As a result, a situation of civil war arose. On the other hand, Karnataka was also restless.
The opponents of Nawab Anwaruddin of Karnataka were trying to make Chanda Saheb, son-in-law of late Nawab Dost Ali, the Nawab. Taking advantage of such an uncertain situation, Dupleix wanted to expand his sphere of influence. So he planned to take advantage of it.
Dupleix decided to support Muzaffarjung and Chanda Saheb. He made a pact with both of them. He promised military assistance to Muzaffarjung and Chanda Saheb and sent a contingent of French forces to help them. With the help of this army, after defeating and killing Anwaruddin and Nasirjung, Muzaffarjung in Hyderabad and Chanda Sahib came to the throne in Karnataka. In exchange for French aid, both gave the French a lot of money. Simultaneously, Dupleix was reinstated as the governor of the Mughal territories in the southern part of the Krishna river by Muzaffarjung. Some districts of the northern government were also given to the French. At the request of Muzaffarjung, a detachment of the French army was stationed in Hyderabad under Captain Bussy. Now the direct control of the French over Hyderabad and Carnatic was established and Dupleix’s power increased immensely.
The British were apprehensive of these events. They also started looking for some such opportunity by which the French could be controlled. Fortunately, the British also got a chance. Muhammad Ali, son of the late Nawab Anwaruddin, fled in fear of Chanda Sahib and went to Trichanapalli where he sought English help. Chanda Sahib and the French army were following him. The British immediately took advantage of this opportunity and planned to defeat the French. They took Muhammad Ali under their protection and made preparations to compete with the French.
The French tried hard to capture the fort of Trichanapalli and surrounded it from all sides, but due to English resistance, they could not capture the fort. The French continued to lay siege to the fort. It was quite possible that the British would have to surrender, but at the same time, Clive showed his foresight. To divert the attention of the French from Trichanapalli, he laid siege to Chanda Sahib’s capital Arcot. Forced, Chanda Saheb had to divert his attention from Trichanapalli and send an army to protect his capital, but Dupleix and Chanda Saheb could not free Arcot from Clive. This was the first significant defeat of Dupleix and the French at the hands of the British. This defeat put an end to Dupleix’s political ambitions and his fortune. Meanwhile, Trichanapalli also came into the hands of the British. Chanda Saheb fled to Tanjore where he was murdered. Now the advocate of the British, Muhammad Ali became the Nawab of Karnataka. Dupleix tried to restore his prestige and power, which he failed. Unhappy with his actions, the French government called him back in 1754 AD. He was replaced by Godehu who ended the Second Carnatic War by making a treaty with the British.
Significance of the Second Carnatic War
The second war of Carnatic proved to be more important from the point of view of results than the first war. According to Sunderlal, this is the rock, colliding with which all the aspirations of Dupleix and the French inside this country were shattered. The position of the British now became stronger than before. This war made the political hollowness of the native kings more clear than ever on foreigners and provided them an opportunity to play freely in Indian politics.
Third Carnatic War (1758-63)
The Second Carnatic War did not end the Anglo-French rivalry in India. Although the French had to make a humiliating treaty with the English, their morale was not broken and they were looking for an opportunity. With the beginning of the Seven Years’ War in Europe (1756 AD), the two powers again clashed with each other in India. By this time (1758 AD) the British’s victory over Bengal (in the Battle of Plassey) had further strengthened their position. As a result, the British were determined to drive the French out of India with twice the power and means.
Arrival of Count Lally
In order to protect the French interests in India and to return the lost power and prestige, the French government sent Count Lally to India in 1757 AD. He reached India in 1758 AD. He was a brave, courageous and skilled general, but at the same time, he was angry and stubborn. He used to make decisions without hesitation out of enthusiasm. Because of this, he had to pay for himself and his national interests.
As soon as he came to India, Lally attacked the fort of St. David and took possession of it. After this, he sent his army against the ruler of Tanjore. The French Company had 56 or 70 lakh rupees left on the Raja of Tanjore, which he wanted to recover. As a result, he attacked Tanjore. Due to the intervention of the British, Lally had to withdraw his cordon and return. This hurts the reputation of the French.
Seeing the face of defeat at Tanjore, Lally planned to attack Madras in the south of the British war, which had already been opposed by some of his colleagues. He also called Bussi from Hyderabad to help him. It was a big mistake on Lally’s. Due to this the position of the French in Hyderabad also weakened. In 1758 AD, the French army besieged Madras. To deal with this situation, Clive sent Colonel Ford to Madras who captured Machilipatam. The British also strengthened their position by making a treaty with the Nizam of Hyderabad. In the meantime, another fleet arrived to help the British. As a result, Lally had to lift his siege on Madras in 1758 AD.
These events further weakened Lally’s position. He neither had enough resources nor could he get adequate help from the home government. Nevertheless, Lally continued to engage in sporadic warfare with the British. In 1760, the decisive battle of Bandiwash took place in which the British general Ayerkoot defeated the French and arrested Bussi. In the words of Mallison, the mighty edifice that Martin, Maas, and Dupleix had contributed to, the war destroyed all Lally’s hopes, it ruined the fate of Pondicherry.
Now in desperation, Layli appealed to Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore, for help against the British, but Hyder Ali retracted at the last moment, promising help. The British laid siege on Pondicherry to avenge Madras. Lally fought strongly against the British, but after a siege of eight months, Lally had to surrender in 1761. Pondicherry was occupied by the British. They also captured Mahi and Jinji.
Result of Carnatic War
The Third War of Carnatic completely destroyed the power of the French in India. This war also brought a sad end to Lally. Unhappy with Lally’s failure, the French government sent him back to France as a prisoner and sentenced him to death in 1763. This war finally established the supremacy of the British in India. At the end of the Seven Years’ War (1763 AD), a treaty was signed between the two sides. Pondicherry was again returned to the French (by the Treaty of Paris), but they were not given the right to fortify it. With this the influence of the French was also ended from Bengal. Now the British have become the fortune-tellers of India in the true sense. Although there were some conflicts between the French and the British till 1818 AD, but in fact, by defeating the French in 1763, the British established their supremacy.
How many Carnatic wars were fought?
Total three Carnatic Wars were fought between French and English:
1. First Carnatic War (1746-48)
2. Second Carnatic War (1749-54)
3. Third Carnatic War (1758-63)